I WAS very surprised, and concerned, at the highly personalised attack on me in the letter from Alyson Walker which appeared in the Helensburgh Advertiser on September 30.

While I share the frustrations of many residents and business owners about changes to Luss, I trust that you will agree that playing the “woman” rather than the ball is unlikely to resolve the issues, but rather lead to unfortunate and needless confrontation – which may require to be decided in another forum. I shall take advice on that.

It is especially disappointing as Mr and Mrs Walker did not move into ‘Elmbank’ in Luss village until several years after the Coach House Coffee Shop opened, so they were well aware of the business before they acquired their home.

They were, and are, also aware that unlike other prominent hospitality businesses in the village, the opening hours of the Coach House are 10am to 4pm.

We are unlicensed and have no clientele in the evening. Any problem with parking or footfall outside of our opening hours cannot be caused by my staff or patrons.

Mr and Mrs Walker seek to park not just one residential vehicle but rather seven – including a 4x4, a works van, a pick-up, a caravan, a boat and a motorbike, plus a vehicle from their AirBnB guests.

READ MORE: Your letters to the Helensburgh Advertiser: September 30, 2021

The caravan has hardly moved over many months and has been connected to their home by a live, unsupervised electric cable, running over the public road, with no warning to the thousands of pedestrians who walk along Church Road every week.

The Coach House has required very significant investment from myself, in terms of both funds and time, over the past 25 years to create the currently successful business which has won awards from peers within our industry.

We built the business from scratch through sheer hard work and persistence despite everything which was put in our way.

As a local I take our responsibility to the village very seriously, and have been delighted on many occasions to help with village events.

We hope to provide complimentary soup this coming year, as usual, for everyone after the Advent service at Luss Parish Church. At our last full Remembrance Day commemoration, we served a hot cup of soup at the Cenotaph allowing locals time for reflection and socialising. Coffees to the officials at the polling station on election day have always been welcomed.

Particularly memorable was the year when the church building was closed and we opened the Coach House for their service one evening. We all sat in front of a roaring fire while the children’s Christingle candles were individually lit in the subdued light.

READ MORE: Luss traffic order plans spark furious row over 'conduct' complaint

For many years I gave freely of my time as a board member of Scottish Enterprise and the tourist board locally to help improve the Loch Lomond area.

A lot has changed over the years, and certainly visitor numbers to Luss have increased. However this is not the result of the Coffee Shop’s actions alone.

External factors have played their part with a general increase in visitors post-recession, and a very significant increase in those who come to the village from cruise ships.

These visitors, however, make a very valuable contribution to the income of all tourist-related businesses, which in turn is spread to the many small Scottish businesses who supply all of us.

Within the village, since we opened almost 25 years ago the parish church has developed as a wedding venue, opening the Pilgrimage Centre (with residential containers) and Glebe.

The National Park Authority has also granted planning permission for various new businesses.

READ MORE: Luss cafe owner - 'My staff could be forced to pay £500 a year just to park outside their work'

The first was the Village Rest, followed by the Luss Estates Seafood Bar (presently closed), Smokery (presently closed), and of course we have seen the change of the visitors centre to ‘commercial premises’ (presently closed). There has also been the Clan Colquhoun Museum (presently closed) and the vexed issue of the ice cream van.

There are also seasonal boat trips from the main pier with a planning application to develop the quieter landing stage area near the Loch Lomond Rescue Boat’s base.

This year we have seen a significant increase in completely new visitors to the Luss Estates Faerie Trail, and permission has been granted for a distillery and brewery complex, owned by the Colquhoun family, which will bring even more new visitors.

It is time now for the National Park and Argyll and Bute Council to take key decisions with regards to what is important in Luss to allow a quality of life for all its residents.

Will they allow increasing commercialisation by Luss Estates which will further increase these visitor numbers and create a theme park?

The recently implemented traffic regulation order in the village is of huge concern as it disadvantages my business. It would have been good to have been consulted by the community council before they created the legal work.

The influence of Luss Estates on the process is also of huge concern as they are not just a land owner but a commercial operator. Many of the residents are unhappy with the new permit system and are starting to realise the practical issues they will face.

We need a balance in Luss and I would welcome open discussion.

Meanwhile I would like to thank our local customers for their support and hope to see them soon.

Rowena Ferguson

Coach House Coffee Shop, Luss

READ MORE: Your letters to the Helensburgh Advertiser: September 2, 2021

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THE change I want to see in Helensburgh to make it a town that is fit for the future is the closure of the two main shopping areas to most traffic.

First, closing off West Princes Street, between Sinclair Street and Colquhoun Square, to all motorised traffic except for disabled people or deliveries. This would transform the shopping experience for pedestrians and disabled people, reducing air pollution, and making it much safer.

Second, closing off the lowest block of Sinclair Street, between Clyde Street and Princes Street, to all motorised traffic except for disabled people or deliveries. This would reduce the amount of traffic on Sinclair Street, and make the area between the railway station and the Co-op much more pleasant for shoppers and visitors to the town.

Motorised traffic travelling west on Princes Street East would have to turn right at Sinclair Street. Motorised traffic travelling south on Sinclair Street would have to turn left onto Princes Street East. The result of this is that most traffic coming down Sinclair Street would, if heading west, turn right at West Montrose Street (as much traffic already does) or at King Street. Traffic heading east would turn left onto King Street East. The result would be far fewer cars in the town centre.

These changes would make conditions safer for cyclists and pedestrians. They would also allow the streets closed to most traffic to have more flowers, shrubs and trees in planters, improving the air quality and reducing noise levels.

Neil Walden

Victoria Road, Helensburgh

READ MORE: Climate week team hoping to build on success of Helensburgh events

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THE change I want to see in Helensburgh to make it a town that is fit for the future is...

Tidying beaches, picking up litter, planting trees, putting up bird feeders, walking instead of using a car, do more exercise, feed the ducks every day, try to recycle things, give stuff to charity, we could compost food that we don’t eat, cut down on electricity every day.

Finlay McLean, Primary 5

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